This was a revelation! Risotto is one of those recipes which once you’ve nailed it, the options for different flavourings are endless. Hungry Hubby is a pasta man usually but we both agree on risotto for midweek dinners. Most of the time, I love babysitting it by the stove until it’s done (aren’t risotto’s the most needy of all meals?!) but when I found myself chained to the books studying for my recent exam, I had to cook faster. By baking your risotto, you are released from the shackles of incessant stirring for a full 25 minutes and yes, I did go back to the books in that short interval of time! Assuming that most sensible adults over 30 (unlike me) aren’t still sitting exams, I think it’s still safe to say you have plenty of other tasks you could be getting on with whilst your risotto cooks itself in the oven.
Roasting a tray of squash alongside the rice is a great way to minimise the work and maximise the flavour. Sprinkled with parmesan, the squash becomes sweet and salty soft little nuggets against the rice, which by this method, will be cooked to perfection. Before trying a baked risotto, I served mine looser than you can see the baked version turns out but believe me, every grain of rice is creamy, well seasoned perfection as there is no evaporation of the stock plus there’s no reason not to add a splash extra with the butter and cheese you finish this dish with.
- Half a butternut squash cut into half inch cubes
- 2 tsp olive oil
- 1 medium carrot
- 1 medium leek slit down the middle and checked for dirt
- 2 ribs celery
- 2 cloves garlic peeled
- 2 tsp fresh rosemary finely chopped
- 1 bay leaf
- 150 g risotto rice
- 450 ml stock
- 4 tbsp finely grated parmesan
- Knob of butter
Preheat the oven to 200˚C and place a shelf low down to accommodate the casserole* dish you cook the risotto in, and one high enough to go over the top and take the tray of butternut.
Place the butternut on a baking tray and spray with oil or trickle on a little olive oil to coat lightly and place in the preheated oven to give it a head start whilst you prepare the risotto.
Place the carrot, leek, celery and garlic in a food processor and pulse until you get a fine, damp confetti.
Heat oil in pan, stir in the processed vegetables. Cook for a couple of minutes then add the bay leaf, rosemary and risotto rice. Cook for a couple more minutes to get the rice well coated in the veg and oil.
Pour in 400ml of the hot stock (I use Kallo very low salt stock cubes), stir well, and bring to the boil - it's crucial to have it up to the boil before you place it in the oven to give it a head start.
Put the lid on your casserole and place on the lower shelf in the oven. Cook for 25 minutes without removing the lid.
In the last five minutes of cooking, sprinkle over about 1tbsp of the parmesan on the butternut.
Remove the risotto from the oven and check for doneness - you may want to add the remaining stock at this point if it looks too dry.
Stir in the butter and remaining parmesan followed by the butternut cubes. Season if needed and eat!
Different brands of risotto rice take different times to cook, so you may need to add or subtract a little cooking time but don't be tempted to take it out of the oven too early to check or it will lose temperature and take too long to cook. If you have too much liquid, simply reduce it on the stove when the rice is cooked but bare in mind, it will continue to absorb the stock as it sits.
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